Your hands are shaking, and your palms are sweating as you glance over at the splits. Seven seconds ahead. This is the run. Just a few more easy hits on the True Final Boss and it’s going to be a new PB (personal best). You take the final swing with your ax and kill the boss, slamming your hand onto the space bar to end the split. You nervously look over to check the final time. After weeks of grinding it’s finally over. A ten-second PB, enough to climb the leader boards, enough for a new world record. You’re so happy, you can’t wait to upload this run for your friends and community members to see. You hit the submit run button on SpeedRun.com and eagerly wait for it to be approved. A few days later you wake up and jump online to check the status of your run. You open the website and see a new notification. You excitedly click it. Your new world record is finally on the leader boards. Unfortunately for you, the notification is nothing like you imagined it.
Freeze frame meme — Yup, that’s me, and you might be wondering how I got into this situation. Sometimes one stupid mistake can invalidate a huge amount of effort. This guide is going to help make sure that this error doesn’t happen to anyone else. We’ll look at what went wrong with my run, and the easy ways to prevent mistakes like this from happening.
Reasons A Speedrun Can Get Rejected
First, let’s take a look at my rejected run side by side with an accepted run from the same category
The mistake on my run was that a small portion of the bottom of the game screen was cut off. I didn’t even realize this error until the speedrun was rejected. I thought about how I could make a mistake like this, and the answer turned out to be an easy-to-fix oversight on my part. I speedrun a lot of different games. This mistake happened because I never created multiple scenes in OBS (Open Broadcast Software for recording videos and livestreaming) for each game. Instead, I would quickly change the game capture and readjust the video spacing every time I switched games. Doing this many times as I switched games meant that eventually I was bound to make a mistake. My old OBS scenes are shown below. I named them “Rabi Ribi” and “tm mario maker”.
I don’t even speedrun Rabi Ribi, and Super Mario Maker is a game I only play for fun. My OBS sources are a complete mess as well. Capturing game footage like this is going to lead to a mistake. It was inevitable. So my first tip to never have a run be rejected is to create a new scene for every game you speed run. Here are the changes I have made to my scenes. One scene for each game, each with clear capture sources.
Setting Up a Smart Layout in OBS
First things first, make sure your game capture is on the top layer. This ensures that none of your overlays will obscure any part of the game. I also recommend leaving space in between the game and the edges of the screen. It is possible to accidentally extend some of your game capture outside of what OBS will display, which will likely result in not having your speedrun accepted.
Remember that this setup isn’t meant to be for a professional livestream. We’re just trying to make an easy to manage layout so that our runs will be approved. There’s no reason to go crazy setting up overlays. A lot of speedrun streamers have a lot going on in their layouts, but unless you want to stream yourself, you don’t need any of that. Spending time to make a neat and minimalistic layout for each game you run will save you a lot of headaches later, trust me.
Maybe you are looking to start streaming and want to add overlays and other things. This can be fine, but there are some things to watch out for. If you have any follower notifications or stream overlays, make sure none of the extra things cover up the game screen itself. Some top speedrunners may seem to get away with notifications and sub-goals covering their runs, but I would not risk it as a newer runner or someone not in the community of a particular game.
The reason these speedrunners can often have their gameplay covered is because it is pretty common for speedrunners to record direct game feed during their streams. This recording is often done with software like AmaRecTV to show gameplay with audio, without any interference from stream visuals, microphone audio, or any other distractions captured in OBS.
Audio is also more important than you might think. Make sure that all the game audio is clearly heard. Check the desktop audio mixer in the toolbar on OBS and make sure it doesn’t spike into the red zone. What if you want to get into the zone and jam out to your favorite songs while speedrunning? If you want to do this I recommend listening through headphones that are not connected to your computer, unless you’d like to go through setting up a separate recording tool such as AmaRecTV. If your music obscures the game audio by too much the speedrun may be rejected. You don’t want to lose a run because you were catJAM-ing to your favorite song and drowned out the game audio.
How to Find Official Submission Rules
The following link will show you the official submission rules on speedrun.com. I do think this is worth a read, but many games have their own rules that can be different from the official ones. Once you’re on a game’s main page, the view rules button will show specific rules for each game.
This will specify the start and end conditions for each game. They will also tell you the video and audio requirements. Some games may have thresholds for submissions. This means that if your run is above a certain threshold, it will be held to a much higher standard. The threshold for acceptable or rejectable speedruns varies quite a bit. Sonic Adventure 2 speedruns can be used as a solid example.
You can see the threshold I’m talking about clearly in this game. If a run is faster than 50 minutes on PC, video proof is needed and it requires a different timing method. Let’s go over a few tips to fully understand these rules and how they can be used for any other game on the site.
Many runs will be split into different categories. You may see some games with an Any% category, and an Any% (glitchless) category. But what defines a glitch? It will vary for every game, so make sure you do your research before submitting a run. Make sure you know any of the restrictions for the category you choose to run, or it will get rejected. You can see in the Sonic Adventure 2 rules that a “Wrong Warp” is a banned strategy. So if you wanted to abuse this sort of glitch, you would need to submit a run under a different category than this one. The “All Stories” rule is shown above as well, without an explanation given. You may need to go into the forums of a game to fully understand what all the restrictions are exactly — but hopefully, all of the rules will be clearly expressed within the Game Rules and Category Rules tabs.
While this should go without saying, don’t cheat. A lot of speedrunners over the years have thought they could get away with cheating. I was there when a world record was removed from the leaderboards years later because, after a closer inspection, it was found the world record holder had been sneaking in the use of a turbo button. They only ever used it to avoid mashing through the in-game text. But scientific research was performed and that speedrunner had their speedruns removed. Not only will your speedruns be removed, but you will be frowned upon in the speedrunning community. There have been cases where cheating in one game lead to that speedrunner’s runs in all other games being removed from the leaderboards because of a lack of credibility. Someone who cheats in one speedrun they’ve spent only a few hours with could have hundreds and hundreds of hours spent on other games completely invalidated.
Damaged reputations are hard, if not impossible (in some cases) to build back up in the speedrunning community. This is especially important in such a community-based activity as speedrunning. While scientific research, frame counts, and deeper knowledge of the game may often lead to findings that remove speedruns from leaderboards or reject the speedrunner altogether, there’s also a level of reliance on trust. Speedrun categories have rules and regulations in place for a reason, but it’s still expected that everyone respects the community by not intentionally trying to trick the system. One of the most important aspects of speedrunning is sportsmanship and respect for speedrunning and speedrunners alike. We’re a community, and we care for one another. To invalidate someone else’s efforts by cheating to get a better time is disrespectful and in the end, only damages your character.
Extra Tips for Getting Your Speedrun Accepted
Here are a few extra things to watch out for, depending on the game you’re running. Some games that receive updates and patches can be annoying to speedrun. Minecraft is the best example of this. You will need to make sure that you show which version you are using at some point in your video, and also ensure that you submit to the correct version on the leaderboards. My final piece of advice is to not talk badly about the moderators of the games. Even if you submit a legitimate run and it does get rejected, being mean about it is probably not going to help. If your run is not approved, you could try making a forum post or messaging the mods for more information as to what went wrong. Remember that not all rejected runs are cheated runs, the mods are most likely going over a checklist, and if your run has too many bad checks it will be rejected. And finally, here is a quick checklist to go over to make sure that you don’t make mistakes when uploading a new personal best.
How to Get Your Speedrun ACCEPTED
- Make a clean and neat layout on OBS with few or no distractions over the gameplay
- Ensure that the audio levels of the game are all in check
- Read the official submission rules for the game and category you are speedrunning
- Be aware of banned strategies and make sure you play on the correct version
- Record a short test video of your setup and make sure everything looks good before sitting down for a play session
- This should go without saying: Don’t cheat
With that, your speedrun should get accepted. Goodluck!
Sam Rowe is a competitive fighting game player, has been a speedrunner for 12+ years, and mostly speedruns Sega Genesis era classics. You can find Sam using their gamer tag: InceptionKitten